By Jennifer Duke
July 11, 2017

Recently, I’ve received many growth opportunities nicely wrapped in extreme discomfort. We all get these. And it’s interesting how the same type of challenge can provide different degrees of pain for each of us depending on our attachments. My personal bag of ego attachments meant that my recent, particular challenges were excruciating. I felt completely inadequate for what I was being asked to do and felt completely justified in my fears.

Exact details aside, my soul, which I suspect has been cloistered away for many incarnations, quietly and privately practicing spirituality in solitude, was being asked to exit its comfortable, inward, quiet, and very private spiritual space to serve outwardly and publicly. This felt like torture and manifested in what seemed like completely appropriate doubt and fear.

Over the months I sought support, hoping someone would provide something that could help. Although once in a while someone did, the struggle waged on. I tried stopping negative thoughts when they appeared but I kept getting sucked into vortices of pain. I employed every method I could to help myself. I doubled down on Kriyas, trying to “target” unknown, specific, fear-causing vrittis (whirlpools of attachments in our spine.) I mentally tossed my fears into huge bonfires of purification. I used affirmations, mantras, devotional chanting… Over and over I repeated  prayer demands; “God, You put me here. I’m trying my hardest – HELP me!”

But my desire for spiritual growth means I will not back down from opportunities to progress. I’m slowly learning to show up, to just do my best even if I feel it’s nearly going to kill me. If I’m being given the task, God has a plan that I can’t understand. Expecting to understand, only causes pain and suffering.

Through these recent uncomfortable opportunities I’m learning an important lesson. I’m discovering that selfishness is the root of my problem and I’m learning to replace it with outwardly directed love. Of course we all understand selfishness is not desirable. But really owning my fear as being selfish, as a form of “but what about me?” ego gratification, required a deeper level of letting go. I’ve realized my suffering occurs precisely because I think of myself, and the suffering is stilled when I focus on service, on unconditional love, on opening my heart to someone or some other group.

Now when I enter a similar situation I focus on offering my heart energy upwards. I inwardly express my desire to become what is needed in the situation and I ask God to use my willingness as a channel for His love. This re-direction of fear provides the peace I’ve been missing.

I wish I could say all pain is gone forever. But at least for now it’s manageable.

“Love gives without expecting anything in return.”

Paramhansa Yogananda